Psychology in Guerrilla Warfare



1. Generalities
In contact with the very reality of their roots, in a psychological operation campaign in guerrilla warfare, the comandantes will be able to obtain maximum psychological results from an Armed Propaganda program. This section is to inform the guerrilla student as to what Armed Propaganda Teams are in the environment of guerrilla warfare.

2. Combination: Political Awareness and Armed Propaganda
The Armed Propaganda Teams combine political awareness-building with armed propaganda, which will be carried out by carefully selected guerrillas (preferably with experience in combat), for personal persuasion within the population.

The selection of the staff is more important than the training, because we cannot train guerrilla cadres just to show the sensations of ardor and fervor, which are essential for person-to-person persuasion. More important is the training of persons who are intellectually agile and developed.

An Armed Propaganda Team includes from 6 to 10 members; this number or a smaller number is ideal, since there is more camaraderie, solidarity and group spirit. The themes to deal with are assimilated more rapidly and the members react more rapidly to unforeseen situations.

In addition to the combination as armed propagandist-combatant each member of the team should be well prepared to carry out permanent person- to-person communication, face-to-face.

The leader of the group should be the commando who is the most highly motivated politically and the most effective in face-to-face persuasion. The position, hierarchy or range will not be decisive for carrying out that function, but rather who is best qualified for communication with the people.

The source of basic recruitment for guerrilla cadres will be the same social groups of Nicaraguans to whom the psychological campaign is directed, such as peasants, students, professionals, housewives, etc. The campesinos (peasants) should be made to see that they do not have lands; the workers that the State is putting an end to factories and industries; the doctors, that they are being replaced by Cuban paramedics, and that as doctors they cannot practice their profession due to lack of medicines. A requirement for recruiting them will be their ability to express themselves in public.

The selection of the personnel is more important than the training. The political awareness-building and the individual capabilities of persuasion will be shown in the group discussions for motivation of the guerrilla as a propagandist-combatant chosen as cadres to organize them in teams, that is, those who have the greatest capacity for this work.

The training of guerrillas for Armed Propaganda Teams emphasizes the method and not the content. A two-week training period is sufficient if the recruitment is done in the form indicated. If a mistaken process of recruitment has been followed, however good the training provided, the individual chosen will not yield a very good result.

The training should be intensive for 14 days, through team discussions, alternating the person who leads the discussion among the members of the group. The subjects to be dealt with will be the same, each day a different theme being presented, for a varied practice.

The themes should refer to the conditions of the place and the meaning that they have for the inhabitants of the locality, such as talking of crops, fertilizers, seeds, irrigation of crops, etc. They can also include the following topics:

  • Sawed wood, carpenters' tools for houses or other buildings.
  • Boats, roads, horses, oxen for transportation, fishing, agriculture.
  • Problems that they may have in the place with residents, offices of the regime, imposed visitors, etc.
  • Force labor, service in the militia.
  • Forced membership in Sandinista groups, such as women's clubs, youth associations, workers' groups, etc.
  • Availability and prices of consumer articles and of basic needs in the grocery stores and shops of the place.
  • Characteristics of education in the public schools.
  • Anxiety of the people over the presence of Cuban teachers in the schools and the intrusion of politics, i.e. using them for political ends and not educational ones as should be.
  • Indignation over the lack of freedom of worship, and persecution, of which priests are victims; and over the participation of priests such as Escoto and Cardenal in the Sandinista government, against the explicit orders of his Holiness, the Pope.

NOTE: Members of the team can develop other themes.

The target groups for the Armed Propaganda Teams are not the persons with sophisticated political knowledge, but rather those whose opinion are formed from what they see and hear. The cadres should use persuasion to carry out their mission. Some of the persuasive methods that they can use are the following:

Interior Group/Exterior Group. It is a principle of psychology that we humans have the tendency to form personal associations from "we" and "the others," or "we" and "they", "friends" and "enemies," "fellow countrymen" and "foreigners," "mestizos" and "gringos."

The Armed Propaganda Team can use this principle in its activities, so that it is obvious that the "exterior" groups ("false" groups) are those of the Sandinista regime, and that the "interior" groups ("true" groups) that fight for the people are the Freedom Commandos.

We should inculcate this in the people in a subtle manner so that these feelings seem to be born of themselves, spontaneously.

"Against" is much easier that "for." It is a principle of political science that it is easier to persuade the people to vote against something or someone than to persuade them to vote in favor of something or someone. Although currently the regime has not given the Nicaraguan people the opportunity to vote, it is known that the people will vote in opposition, so that the Armed Propaganda Teams can use this principle in favor of our insurrectional struggle. They should ensure that this campaign is directed specifically against the government or its sympathizers, since the people should have specific targets for their frustrations.

Primary Groups and Secondary Groups. Another principle of sociology is that we humans forge or change our opinions from two sources: primarily, through our association with our family, comrades, or intimate friends; and secondarily, through distant associations such as acquaintances in churches, clubs or committees, labor unions or governmental organizations. The Armed Propaganda Team cadres should join the first groups in order to persuade them to follow the policies of our movement, because it is from this type of group that the opinions or changes of opinion come.

Techniques of Persuasion in Talks or Speeches:

Be Simple and Concise. You should avoid the use of difficult words or expressions and prefer popular words and expressions, i.e. the language of the people. In dealing with a person you should make use of concise language, avoiding complicated words. It is important to remember that we use oratory to make our people understand the reason for our struggle, and not to show off our knowledge.

Use Lively and Realistic Examples. Avoid abstract concepts, such as are used in universities in the advanced years, and in place of them, give concrete examples such as children playing, horses galloping, birds in flight, etc.

Use Gestures to Communicate.
Communication, in addition to being verbal, can be through gestures, such as using our hands expressively, back movements, facial expressions, focusing of our look and other aspects of "body language," projecting the individual personality in the message.

Use the Appropriate Tone of Voice. If, on addressing the people, you talk about happiness, a happy tone should be used. If you talk of something sad, the tone of the voice should be one of sadness; on talking of a heroic or brave act, the voice should be animated, etc.

Above All, Be Natural. Imitation of others should be avoided, since the people, especially simple people, easily distinguish a fake. The individual personality should be projected when addressing the population.

3. "Eyes and Ears" Within the Population
The amount of information for intelligence that will be generated by the deployment of the Armed Propaganda Teams will allow us to cover a large area with out commandos, who will become the eyes and ears of our movement within the population:

The combined reports of an Armed Propaganda Team will provide us with exact details on the enemy activities.

The intelligence information obtained by the Armed Propaganda Teams should be reported to the chiefs. However, it is necessary to emphasize that the first mission of the Armed Propaganda Teams is to carry out psychological operations, not to obtain data for intelligence.

Any intelligence report will be made through the outside contact of the Armed Propaganda Team, in order not to compromise the population.

The Armed Propaganda cadres are able to do what others in a guerrilla campaign cannot do: determine personally the development or deterioration of the popular support and the sympathy or hostility that the people feel toward our movement.

The Armed Propaganda Team program, in addition to being very effective psychologically, increases the guerrilla capacity in obtaining and using information.

In addition, the Armed Propaganda cadre will report to his superior the reaction of the people to the radio broadcasts, the insurrectional flyers, or any other means of propaganda of ours.

Expressions or gestures of the eyes, or face, the tone and strength of the voice, and the use of the appropriate words greatly affect the face-to- face persuasion of the people.

With the intelligence reports supplied by the Armed Propaganda Teams, the comandantes will be able to have exact knowledge of the popular support, which they will make use of in their operations.

4. Psychological Tactics, Maximum Flexibility
Psychological tactics will have the greatest flexibility within a general plan, permitting a continuous and immediate adjustment of the message, and ensuring that an impact is caused on the indicated target group at the moment in which it is the most susceptible.

Tactically, an Armed Propaganda Equipment program should cover the majority and if possible all of the operational area. The communities in which this propaganda is carried out should not necessarily form political units with an official nature. A complete understanding of their structure or organization is not necessary because the cadres will work by applying socio-political action and not academic theory.

The target populations of the Armed Propaganda Teams will be chosen for being part of the operational area, and not for their size or amount of land.

The objective should be the people and not the territorial area.

In this respect, each work team will be able to cover some six towns approximately, in order to develop popular support for our movement.

The Team should always move in a covert manner within the towns of their area.

They should vary their route radically, but not their itinerary,. This is so that the inhabitants who are cooperating will be dependent on their itinerary, i.e., the hour in which they can frequently contact them to give them the information.

The danger of betrayal or an ambush can be neutralized by varying the itinerary a little, using different routes, as well as arriving or leaving without previous warning.

Whenever the surprise factor is used, vigilance should be kept in order to detect the possible presence of hostile elements.

No more than three consecutive days should be spent in a town.

The limit of three days has obvious tactical advantages, but it also has a psychological effect on the people, on seeing the team as a source of current and up-to-date information. Also, it can overexpose the target audience and cause a negative reaction.

Basic tactical precautions should be taken. This is necessary for greater effectiveness, as was indicated in dealing with the subject of "Armed Propaganda," and when it is carried out discreetly, it increases the respect of the people for the team and increases their credibility.

The basic procedures are: covert elements that carry out vigilance before and after the departure and in intervals. There should be two at least, and they should meet at a predetermined point upon a signal, or in view of any hostile action.

The team's goal is to motivate the entire population of a place, but to constantly remain aware that defined target groups exist within this general configuration of the public.

Although meetings may be held in the population, the cadres should recognize and keep in contact with the target groups, mixing with them before, during and after the meeting. The method for holding this type of meeting was included in the topic "Armed Propaganda," and will be covered in greater detail under the title "Control of Mass Meetings and Demonstrations."

The basic focus of the Armed Propaganda cadres should be on the residents of the town,where their knowledge as formers of opinion can be applied.

In the first visits of identification with the inhabitants, the guerrilla cadres will be courteous and humble. They can work in the fields or in any other form in which their abilities can contribute to the improvement of the living style of the inhabitants of the place, winning their trust and talking with them; helping to repair the fences of their cattle; the cleaning of the same, collaborating in the vaccination of their animals; teaching them to read, i.e., closely together in all the tasks of the peasant or the community.

In his free time, our guerrilla should mix in with the community groups and participate with them in pastoral activities, parties, birthdays, and even in wakes or burials of the members of said community; he will try to converse with both adults and adolescents. |He will try to penetrate to the heart of the family, in order to win the acceptance and trust of all of the residents of that sector.

The Armed Propaganda Team cadres will give ideological training, mixing these instructions with folkloric songs, and at the same time he will tell stories that have some attraction, making an effort to make them refer to heroic acts of our ancestors. He will also try to tell stories of heroism of our combatants in the present struggle so that listeners try to imitate them. It is important to let them know that there are other countries in the world where freedom and democracy cause those governing to be concerned over the well-being of their people, so that the children have medical care and free education; where also they are concerned that everyone have work and food, and all freedoms such as those of religion, association and expression; where the greatest objective of the government is to keep its people happy.

The cadres should not make mention of their political ideology during the first phase of identification with the people, and they should orient their talks to things that are pleasing to the peasants or the listeners, trying to be as simple as possible in order to be understood.

The tactical objectives for identification with the people are the following:

To establish tight relations through identification with the people, through their very customs.

To determine the basic needs and desires of the different target groups.

To discover the weaknesses of the governmental control. Little by little, to sow the seed of democratic revolution, in order to change the vices of the regime towards a new order of justice and collective well-being.

In the motivation of the target groups, by the Armed Propaganda Teams, the cadre should apply themes of "true~ groups and themes of "false" groups. The true group will correspond to the target group and the falseone to the Sandinista regime.

For the economic interest groups, such as small businessmen and farmers, it should be emphasized that their potential progress is "limited" by the Sandinista government, that resources are scarcer and scarcer, the earnings/profits minimal, taxes high, etc. This can be applied to entrepreneurs of transportation and others.

For the elements ambitious for power and social positions, it will be emphasized that they will never be able to belong to the governmental social class, since they are hermetic in their circle of command. Example, the nine Sandinista leaders do not allow other persons to participate in the government, and they hinder the development of the economic and social potential of those like him, who have desires of overcoming this, which is unjust and arbitrary.

Social and intellectual criticisms. They should be directed at the professionals, professors, teachers, priests, missionaries, students and others. Make them see that their writings, commentaries or conversations are censored, which does not make it possible to correct these problems.

Once the needs and frustrations of the target groups have been determined, the hostility of the people to the "false" groups will become more direct, against the current regime and its system of repression. The people will be made to see that once this system or structure has been eliminated, the cause of their frustration s would be eliminated and they would be able to fulfill their desires. It should be shown to the population that supporting the insurrection is really supporting their own desires, since the democratic movement is aimed at the elimination of these specific problems.

As a general rule, the Armed Propaganda teams should avoid participating in combat. However, if this is not possible, they should react as a guerrilla unit with tactics of "hit and run," causing the enemy the greatest amount of casualties with aggressive assault fire, recovering enemy weapons and withdrawing rapidly.

One exception to the rule to avoid combat will be when in the town they are challenged by hostile actions, whether by an individual or whether by a number of men of an enemy team.

The hostility of one or two men can be overcome by eliminating the enemy in a rapid and effective manner. This is the most common danger.

When the enemy is equal in the number of its forces, there should be an immediate retreat, and then the enemy should be ambushed or eliminated by means of sharp-shooters.

In any of the cases, the Armed Propaganda Team cadres should not turn the town into a battleground. Generally, our guerrilla will be better armed, so that they will obtain greater respect from the population if they carry out appropriate maneuvers instead of endangering their lives, or even destroying their houses in an encounter with the enemy within the town.

5. A Comprehensive Team Program - Mobile Infrastructure
The psychological operations through the Armed Propaganda Teams include the infiltration of key guerrilla communicators (i.e., Armed Propaganda Team cadres) into the population of the country, instead of sending messages to them through outside sources, thus creating our "mobile infrastructure."

A "mobile infrastructure" is a cadre of our Armed Propaganda Team moving about, i.e., keeping in touch with six or more populations, from which his source of information will come; and at the same time it will serve so that at the appropriate time they will become integrated in the complete guerrilla movement.

In this way, an Armed Propaganda Team program in the operational area builds for our comandantes in the countryside constant source of data gathering (infrastructure) in all the area. It is also a means for developing or increasing popular support, for recruiting new members and for obtaining provisions.

In addition, an Armed Propaganda Team program allows the expansion of the guerrilla movement, since they can penetrate areas that are not under the control of the combat units. In this way, through an exact evaluation of the combat units they will be able to plan their operations more precisely, since they will have certain nowledge of the existing conditions.

The comandantes will remember that this type of operation is similar to the Fifth Column, which was used in the first part of the Second World War, and which through infiltration and subversion tactics allowed the Germans to penetrate the target countries before the invasions. They managed to enter Poland, Belgium, Holland and France in a month, and Norway in a week. The effectiveness of this tactic has been clearly demonstrated in several wars and can be used effectively by the Freedom Commandos.

The activities of the Armed Propaganda Teams run some risks, but no more than any other guerrilla activity. However, the Armed Propaganda Teams are essential for the success of the struggle.

6. Conclusions
In the same way that the explorers are the "eyes and "ears" of a patrol, or of a column on the march, the Armed Propaganda Teams are also the source of information, the "antennas" of our movement, because they find and exploit the sociopolitical weaknesses in the target society, making possible a successful operation.

Self-Hemployed Social Stream